Imagine yourself in
a boat, on the ocean... actually a Trident submarine on patrol. This is where I learned
how to play cards, and specifically, Spades. I've seen it all, different options
and different rules. Being a seasoned veteran at this game, I decided to tackle it,
and on the Macintosh, I found it a game worth tackling.
First off, let me explain a little about the game of Spades. Spades is a four player
card game (two teams), that uses a standard deck of 52 cards. The object of the game
is get to a predetermined score, usually 500, or 1000 pts. The team to get there
wins. Generally, after the cards are dealt, you guess how many "Tricks"
your team will take. You earn points by taking tricks. This is done by the person
who leads the highest card in a suit winning the trick. It gets a bit complicated,
because spade cards are Trump, meaning that if you play a spade, it can take any
other suits trick. The person who wins the trick gets to lead the next trick, and
everyone must play the lead suit, if they have it, or else they can "sluff"
or throw off. Finally, you only want to get the amount of tricks that you guess you
will get, or you can get penalized.
There are a few more peculiarities to the game, such as bidding Nil or Blind Nil,
and I'll briefly touch upon that throughout this review.
Whether we're talking Hearts, Spades or even Bridge, Freeverse chose to use the
same interface. This really makes it easy to learn the next game, because the interfaces
are very similar. The graphical backgrounds are stunning, and you really feel like
your playing cards at a table rather than just viewing some computer screen.
Next thing is the Puppets. The user is presented with some colorful characters to
play with. You're not just playing against the Computer, you're playing against opponents
like Jen and Hal. You can download other puppets to play with and experience their
There is an Auto
Play feature that will play the best cards for you if you just want to sit back
and watch the computer play it out for you.
Scoring is great, because it provides a running score total, providing more realistic
The best feature by far, however, is the Freeverse Game Server. Finally a game that
you can play with real people online, and Mac people at that. You can chat with other
users at the same time that you're involved in game play with the freeverse server,
and have your messages pop up as speech bubbles above your puppets head. That's right,
you get to choose the puppet you want to represent you in the network game. When
you're happy or upset, there are emotion buttons that you can press to have your
puppet express some emotion to the other users. That adds to the fun as well. Additionally,
if you play online a lot, you'll find that you can get a rating to see where you
stack up against your fellow players.
I was hard pressed to find any faults with the game. If there was anything to complain
about, it was that I couldn't always find people online playing. Increasing the advertising
of this feature could help. From a technical note of playing Spades, if a person
bids Nil or Blind Nil, it would be nice to have a feature that allows the other team
to change their bid. Also, there should be a feature to select a minimum bid that
must be achieved. In my past experience, that is generally four tricks. Such an expanded
bidding option would enhance the game.
This game, just as many of the Freeverse Games, is the best computer based Spades
game I have ever played. If you haven't downloaded this game yet, I would say it
is a must download, and a must buy. It's only $19.95, and worth every penny of it.
You'll swear that this isn't shareware, but a fine piece of commercial software.
- Outstanding randomization
- Great adjustable
- Good game tutor for
those who need it!
- Network play
- Realistic and stunning
- Needs a stronger online presence
- Could benefit from enhanced bidding
5 out of 5 Mice